With Rail Strike Imminent, Biden Buys Some Time With An Executive Order

Written by Wes Walker on July 18, 2022

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If you thought supply chain issues were bad now, just imagine what they’d look like during a rail strike!

Here is a little about the deadline (for today) that was looming over them.

Railroads and union workers have been unable to reach an agreement on a new contract and the rail companies are now seeking intervention from the Biden administration, which is weighing the appointment of an arbitration board to recommend a settlement.
The unions and rail companies are at the end of a 30-day “cooling-off” period that ends Monday, and without presidential intervention, a strike could be imminent. —WashingtonTimes

Anyone familiar with the history of the Pullman strike of 1894 knows just how badly a strike involving our transportation infrastructure can spin out of control. There were riots and some deaths as a result of that one, and President Cleveland had to send in federal troops to restore order.

A pro-socialist website (so, take what they say with a grain of salt) explains the grievances this way:

Workers have been without a contract for nearly three years, and conditions in the railroads are atrocious. Tens of thousands of workers have resigned in recent years, particularly due to the punishing work schedule, in which 70+ hours a week are not uncommon. Workers are on call 24/7, leaving them unable to plan a family life or even schedule medical appointments. In addition, workers have not had a pay increase since the expiration of the last contract, leaving them at the mercy of 9 percent inflation. Meanwhile, the Class I railroads have made record profits during the pandemic.WSWS

Grievances about the cost of living rising faster than wages will sound somewhat familiar to anyone who’s done their reading about the Pullman Strike. That was almost exactly the situation that triggered the other strike.

What has Biden done? Short answer is, he’s kicked the can down the road for a month.

Per White House Press Release:

Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing a Presidential Emergency Board, effective July 18, 2022, to help resolve an ongoing dispute between major freight rail carriers and their unions.
Keeping supply chains running means keeping America’s railways running. In making the decision to create the Presidential Emergency Board, the President has considered input from relevant stakeholders. The President’s goal is to make sure America’s freight rail system continues to run without disruption, delivering the items that our families, communities, farms and businesses rely on.
The Presidential Emergency Board will provide a structure for workers and management to resolve their disagreements. The Board will investigate the dispute and, within 30 days of its establishment, deliver a report recommending how the dispute should be resolved.
By statute, the Executive Order triggers a “cooling off” period intended to keep the parties working toward a negotiated settlement.

Let’s hope he’s got some kind of a plan worked out 30 days from now because what is the strike about? The cost of living.

And what’s driving that? Bidenflation.

Leading indicators suggest inflation is swinging higher, not lower, so let’s see where that leaves us in 30 days.

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